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Another giant hope for the Jewish state

February 24, 2019 Science 0 Views The three young men who came to my office almost a decade ago were disappointed. They have just ended enthusiastically with showing me their plan to build a small spacecraft that can land on the moon, send a picture from there and then run about 500 meters and send another picture. "We will do this within 3-4 years, at a cost of $ 10 million," says Yariv, Kfir and Yonatan, "and we will win Google's $ 20 million prize for the first private (non- state) group We will donate the prize money to educational activities that will attract Israeli youth to study science and technology in general and in space. First, only the US, Russia and China did it for us! " [1 9659005] Israel's Mission to the Moon (Photo : SpaceX) “/> Israel's Mission to the Moon (Photo: SpaceX) Their three faces fell when I told them that the spacecraft would cost at least $ 80 million, four times more than the cash prizes themselves. I recalled similar situations where I was when I was their age, when my ideas met with serious doubts. I was lucky, and despite skepticism, I always had the opportunity to prove my ideas. What do we have to lose? I thought. According to Israeli antitrust laws, the investment must come mainly from private sources, so that this would not risk any public money. "You know what," I said. "I will give you a 10-minute opportunity to present…

The three young men who came to my office almost a decade ago were disappointed. They have just ended enthusiastically with showing me their plan to build a small spacecraft that can land on the moon, send a picture from there and then run about 500 meters and send another picture.

“We will do this within 3-4 years, at a cost of $ 10 million,” says Yariv, Kfir and Yonatan, “and we will win Google’s $ 20 million prize for the first private (non- state) group We will donate the prize money to educational activities that will attract Israeli youth to study science and technology in general and in space. First, only the US, Russia and China did it for us! “

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9659005] Israel’s Mission to the Moon (Photo : SpaceX) “/>

Israel’s Mission to the Moon (Photo: SpaceX)

Their three faces fell when I told them that the spacecraft would cost at least $ 80 million, four times more than the cash prizes themselves. I recalled similar situations where I was when I was their age, when my ideas met with serious doubts. I was lucky, and despite skepticism, I always had the opportunity to prove my ideas. What do we have to lose? I thought.

According to Israeli antitrust laws, the investment must come mainly from private sources, so that this would not risk any public money.

“You know what,” I said. “I will give you a 10-minute opportunity to present the idea of ​​the space conference next week at Tel Aviv University and we will ensure that the conference includes philanthropists trained in Israel and who have a Zionist pride flowing through their veins.” 19659009] Morris Kahn at SpaceIL (Photo: Shaul Golan) “/>

Morris Kahn at SpaceIL (Photo: Shaul Golan)

] And so it happened. In the audience for the presentation, the philanthropist Morris Kahn, who donated several hundred thousand dollars in place to get the idea from the ground, was ultimately carrying the main burden of donations to the project, whose final cost (including the launch) came to about $ 100 million. He also worked to recruit important people to the leadership of SpaceIL (including me). The rest is history: the spacecraft makes its way to the moon.

The real lesson in this story is the entrepreneurial culture in Israel. No skepticism can stop a group of young entrepreneurs from trying to realize an idea they believe in.

All the basic prerequisites for realizing technical dreams – creativity, technical know-how, mobilization of talented individuals on a voluntary basis, financing etc. – are all around Israel. you only have to reach out and take them. That is why Israel is now considered a global center for high-tech technologies, and therefore the economy is booming. ?

Isaac Ben Israel is the General of the IDF Reserves and Chairman of the Israel Space Agency

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